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Political Wire logo Ivanka Trump Could Be Next on Target List
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Will the Popular Vote Winner Lose Again?
Schultz Campaign Spurred Fake Twitter Accounts

Fourth Republican Senator Will Vote against Trump's Emergency Declaration

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has now come out in favor of a resolution that would rescind the national emergency Donald Trump has declared in order to use non-wall money to build his pet wall. Assuming Paul and the other three Republican senators who support the resolution stick to their guns (and Republicans do like their guns), then it will pass Congress and go to Trump's desk for a certain veto. The other three are Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Thom Tillis (NC). None of the Republicans are against the wall, per se. Their objection is to a power grab with which the president is trying to make an end run around the Constitution, which unambiguously says that Congress, not the president, gets to decide how public funds are to be spent. The House has already passed the resolution and the Senate will vote on it within 2 weeks.

After the veto, Congress can try to override it, but the votes don't appear to be there, so the resolution won't go into effect. Nevertheless, it is important in that this is the first actual sign that Congress is prepared to stand up for its own powers and not kowtow to Trump on everything. It could also be of importance in the legal cases that are already ongoing. In those cases, the plaintiffs are claiming that Trump's move to spend money for things other than what Congress appropriated it for is unconstitutional. The resolution makes it abundantly clear that Congress has appropriated $1.375 billion for border fencing and not a penny more, so Trump can't argue in court that Congress actually approved his plan. (V)

House Judiciary Committee Will Start Investigating Trump

Yesterday, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), said that his committee is about to start looking into the possibility that Donald Trump abused his power. Nadler is planning to send out requests for documents to over 60 people, including Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. The full list of targets will be released today.

Nadler isn't the only committee chair who is investigating Trump. Elijah Cummings (Oversight), Adam Schiff (Intelligence), Maxine Waters (Banking), and Eliot Engel (Foreign Affairs) are at it, too. While all committee chairs are equal, some committee chairs are more equal. In particular, Nadler's committee is the only one that can vote to impeach the president, so his actions are especially important, and he is not a happy camper. He told ABC's George Stephanopoulos: "We've seen real threats to the rule of law from this White House, whether personal enrichment—the White House seems to have used its power for personal enrichment in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution—we've seen abuses of power, obstruction of justice, threats to the Mueller investigation, threats to witnesses."

Nadler has been cautious about his definition of an impeachable offense up until now, but yesterday he said that seeking to sabotage a fair election would be an impeachable offense. That the Russians interfered in the 2016 election is beyond any doubt now. The only remaining question is what Trump knew about it, when he knew about it, and what he did when he found out. (V)

Schiff: There is Already Evidence of Collusion

Jerrold Nadler may not be convinced yet that Donald Trump's campaign colluded with the Russians in 2016, but his colleague Adam Schiff (D-CA) has already connected the dots. Yesterday, Schiff told CBS' "Face the Nation" that we already know there was collusion. Schiff: "They offer that dirt. There is an acceptance of that offer in writing from the president's son, Don Jr., and there are overt acts and furtherance of that." He is referring to the meeting in Trump Tower with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in the summer of 2016. The facts about the planning of the meeting are well known. What is not known to the public is what transpired in the meeting. No doubt special counsel Robert Mueller tried to find out, but only his team knows whether he was successful.

Now Trump has Nadler and Schiff on his tail. Bad as that may be for him, the next one could be the worst of all. Maxine Waters is planning to investigate Deutsche Bank, its connections with Trump, and whether they did any money laundering for Russian oligarchs. Various reports have said this is the thing Trump is most worried about. Given the existence of a paper trail, violations of financial laws are often the easiest to prove. (V)

Plurality of Voters Believe Michael Cohen

A HarrisX poll conducted for The Hill showed that more people found Michael Cohen's testimony credible (37%) than didn't (25%), but even more people aren't sure or don't know anything about it. Men were much more likely to have an opinion than women. Here is the breakdown by gender.

Response Men Women Total
I believe Cohen 42% 32% 37%
I don't believe Cohen 31% 19% 25%
I need more information 21% 30% 26%
Michael Who? 6% 19% 12%

What is also interesting is how right-leaning outlets reported the poll:

  • The Hill: Poll Finds 37 Percent Found Cohen Testimony Credible
  • Breitbart: Poll: Only 37% Found Michael Cohen's Testimony Credible
  • World News Daily: Poll: Only 37% Found Cohen Testimony Credible
  • The Blaze: Stunning Poll Shows How Many Voters Thought Michael Cohen's Testimony Was Credible

This is a bit like reporting Smith's crushing victory over Jones as: Jones comes in second; Smith finishes in next to last place. And Fox News, Town Hall, and Drudge didn't bother reporting it at all. (V)

CPAC Attendees Are Worried about Biden

Attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which was held this past weekend in Maryland, pretty much all think Donald Trump will be reelected, but they are worried about one potential challenger: Joe Biden. Many of the CPAC attendees interviewed by The Hill see all the Democrats as batshit crazy left-wing loonies whom Trump will crush. But Biden makes them nervous due to his universal name recognition, blue-collar roots, and connection with Barack Obama—who, after all, was elected president twice. A ticket featuring Biden paired with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) might be particularly scary because it would combine governing experience (which many voters would like) with someone who could energize the left.

On the other hand, some attendees pointed out that Biden has run before and not made it and also that he is quite gaffe prone. Biden already has a pat answer to this, incidentally. Since December of last year, he's been saying, "I am a gaffe machine. But my God, what a wonderful thing compared to a guy who can't tell the truth."

Trump himself spoke at CPAC—at great length. He clocked in at 2 hours and 2 minutes in front of a packed ballroom. During his speech, he said that all of ISIS will be defeated by tomorrow. He also mocked the accent of his former AG, Jeff Sessions. While on the subject of mocking, he also changed his "nickname" for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff from "Little Adam Schitt" to "Shifty Schiff," which is probably one letter off from what he really means.

The mocking didn't end with accents and nicknames. He also went after the Democrats' Green New Deal, saying that it will end airplanes and turn off the energy when the wind stops blowing, adding: "Is the wind blowing today? I'd like to watch television."

While Democrats are horrified by a president acting like a third grader who is having a bad hair day, the audience loved every minute of it. His style also makes it impossible for the Democrats to do what they like to do: Have a serious discussion about public policy. Trump just won't go there. It is all snide remarks and bullying and trolling the libs, but that is precisely what his base loves about him—and why other Republicans with the same policies don't do as well as he does. They can't make liberals' blood go from 98.6℉ to 212℉ in 5 seconds, the way Trump can. (V)

Voters Don't Want a Socialist President

There is a good reason the Republicans are already talking about how the Democrats are socialists and plan to make this one of their biggest themes in 2020: The voters don't like socialists. A new NBC News/WSJ poll asked the usual questions but also a few unusual ones. The usual ones included whether the respondent approves of Donald Trump. It turns out that Republicans, rural residents, whites without college degrees, men, and whites overall approve of him. On the other hand, black voters, Latinos, women, young people, whites with college degrees, and independents don't like him. Who knew? Trump's overall approval is at 46%. Perhaps more relevant, though, is that 41% definitely or probably will vote for him and 48% definitely or probably will vote against him. That's not a great start, but in January 1995, only 38% said they would vote for Bill Clinton and 42% said they wouldn't, yet he still won reelection 18 months later.

Now onto the new part. The pollsters asked people what characteristics would be acceptable for them in a president. Here are the results:

NBC poll

The poll shows that voters are willing to tell pollsters that just about everyone is fine, except old Muslim socialists. You should take this poll with a barrel of salt, though. Not a lot of people would dare to tell a pollster that they would never vote for a black person, a woman, or a gay person, but probably more than a few would do exactly that in the privacy of the voting booth. What is interesting, however, is that it is perfectly acceptable to be against "socialists," although probably very few people could define what socialism is. The Republicans have no doubt been running polls like this privately for a while and have concluded that the most hated category is "socialists," so they are going to mount a full-bore campaign to call the Democrats socialists. If the polls had shown that the least popular characteristic was being a vegan, the Republicans would mount a full-throated campaign calling the Democrats vegans. This being the case, expect the Republicans to hound the Democrats mercilessly for the next 20 months, calling them socialists and using Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as their poster girl, even though she is a Democratic Socialist, which is quite different from a socialist. (V)

A Ranking of the Democratic Candidates

The Washington Post rushes in where angels fear to tread and has made and published a new ranking of the best person to beat Donald Trump. Here it is:

Rank Candidate Change since last ranking
1. Kamala Harris (SAME)
2. Joe Biden UP 1
3. Bernie Sanders UP 1
4. Amy Klobuchar DOWN 2
5. Cory Booker UP 1
6. Elizabeth Warren DOWN 1
7. Sherrod Brown (SAME)
8. Beto O'Rourke (SAME)
9. Pete Buttigieg UP 1
10. Michael Bloomberg UP 1
11. Kirsten Gillibrand DOWN 2
12. Michael Bennet (SAME)
13. John Hickenlooper UP 1
14. Howard Schultz DOWN 1
15. Julián Castro RETURNS TO RANKING

To a large extent, the ranking is all about name recognition. Harris, Biden, and Sanders are very well known, whereas Bennet, Hickenlooper, and Castro are not. One thing we strongly disagree with is putting billionaire Howard Schultz on the list at all. If he runs, it will be as an independent, and as such he has very close to zero chance of getting even a single electoral vote, let alone beating Trump (although he could help reelect Trump by running). Needless to say, this list is very subjective. Why, for example, is Pete Buttigieg ahead of Castro, who if nominated, would surely bring a lot of Latinos to the polls and help in Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Florida, whereas Buttigieg is unlikely to carry his own state of Indiana? (V)

A First Look at the Electoral College

All right, now that we have figured out who the Democrats will nominate (see above), it is time to move on to the next step. As everyone knows, the people of the United States don't pick the president, the Electoral College does. Although it is very early in the cycle, people are starting to draw up Electoral College maps. For example, Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball has already made a first cut at it. We discuss this below. Taegan Goddard, who runs Political Wire, has created a new site, that will average multiple aggregators, including us, Larry Sabato, Charlie Cook, and FiveThirtyEight. It also allows you to override the average of the averages and make your own Electoral College map.

Here is The Crystal Ball's initial map:

EV map

In this map, the large number of dark red states in the middle dominate the map, but they are worth only 125 EVs. In contrast, the small number of dark blue states are worth 183 EVs. These states are basically not contested and candidates will visit them in the general election campaign only to raise money (and for the Republicans, maybe not even then since none of them are loaded with millionaires and billionaires). When we throw in the leaning states, the Republicans are ahead 248 to 244, with only four states (and NE-02) in the toss-up column.

What is most noteworthy is that the Crystal Ball has Texas and Florida colored as orange, meaning lean Republican. Most other predictors, us included, see Texas as very unlikely to turn blue, even if Beto O'Rourke is the Democratic nominee, while Florida is always a toss-up. The Ball gives Florida as a slight Republican lean because Trump won it in 2016 and because Republicans won both the Senate race and the gubernatorial race in 2018. Still, the Sunshine State is very much in play in 2020, given the growing Puerto Rican vote and the re-enfranchisement of the state's felons.

Also noteworthy is how the three Midwest states that Trump unexpectedly won in 2016 (Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania) are rated. The Democrats get Michigan back due to the fact that Trump's margin there was only 11,000 votes and Democrats won solid victories in the senatorial and gubernatorial elections in 2018. The other two states could go either way.

Also a bit surprising is making Arizona a swing state. It's true that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) pulled off a narrow victory in 2018, but Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) was reelected by 14 points last year. Arizona has been moving toward purple status for years, but if 2020 becomes the year when it actually gets there remains to be seen.

And, of course, keep in mind that it is extremely early in the cycle. This early in 2015, no one (least of all, Donald Trump) predicted that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee, so a lot can change in the coming 20 months. (V)

Three States Replace Vulnerable Voting Machines--with New Vulnerable Voting Machines

Won't they ever learn? Quick answer: Apparently not. Two states (Georgia and Delaware) and part of another state (Pennsylvania) are replacing their old electronic voting machines that don't have a paper trail with new voting machines that do have a paper trail. That's the good news. The bad news is that a hacker (or an evil country) can still potentially change the election results by hacking the machines.

Here's the problem: The new voting machines use touch screens, which can show ballots in multiple languages and provide audio for the blind, which is fine. Then, after the voter has finished making choices, they print paper ballots, which is also fine. However, the ballots also contain a bar code, which encodes the results, which is not fine at all. The problem is that a sophisticated hacker could arrange for the human-readable part of the printed ballot to reflect the choices the voter made while the bar code reflects the choices the hacker made. When voters inspect the printed ballot and see that the readable choices are the ones they made, they will almost all be happy (except those voters who are also security experts) and not realize that the bar code—which is what the optical scanners use to count the votes—may encode different choices. If the machines had simply left out the bar code (which would have made scanning marginally more difficult but a million times more secure), everything would have been fine.

The new systems are better than the old ones, however, because manual recounts of the paper ballots based on the readable part, not the bar code, will be possible. But all this means is that a hacker has to manipulate enough ballots to give one candidate such a clear majority that no one proposes a manual recount. Even with the new machines, though, it is not entirely hopeless. Each county, could, for example, randomly choose 1,000 ballots to both scan and count by hand. If the totals were identical, then the chance that more than 1% of the ballots were manipulated is very small. Of course, the chance that any county or state decides to run this cross check is vanishingly small since all election administrators have a blind faith in what the vendors tell them.

One potential improvement might be a smartphone app that could scan the barcode and display what was in it. However, the chance that many voters would do this is extremely low unless there were signs all over the polling places telling voters to do it, something that election administrators would fight tooth and nail because it would suggest that the ballots were insecure. It's true, but the administrators certainly don't want to tell the voters that.

The choice of the machines was controversial. In the Georgia House, the vote to buy the new machines was 101 to 72, basically along party lines, with Republicans in favor of them (and thus pooh-poohing the concerns of the security experts who told them the machines were not safe) and the Democrats wanting better machines. In theory, a state could insist that the manufacturer change the software to omit the bar codes, but unless that is a condition for getting the order, it is not going to happen. So, is this an advance? Yes. Is it bulletproof? No. But the whole episode goes to show that lawmakers simply don't think security is important, even when some of the experts are local (e.g., Richard DeMillo and Robert Kadel of Georgia Tech, in the case of Georgia). (V)

Roger Stone's Trial Will Take 5 to 8 Days

On Friday, prosecutors on special counsel Robert Mueller's team said that the trial of Roger Stone for lying to Congress and obstruction of justice will probably take 5 to 8 days, assuming that Stone does not call any witnesses (which his defense team is allowed to do, of course). The trial won't be any time soon. The prosecution and defense teams have been instructed to show up in the courtroom of Judge Amy Berman Jackson on May 14 to report on their respective statuses. The judge is expected to set a trial date then, but if either side has a good reason to ask for more time, she could grant that request. The current expectation is that the trial is likely to begin in the late summer or early fall. (V)

Monday Q&A

We had a fair number of questions about our special Saturday Q&A, specifically the part about DW-NOMINATE scores and how far the parties have moved away from the political center. We're going to answer one of those questions now (the first answer below), and then some more on Thursday (as we are waiting for a couple of e-mail responses).

You mention the Democratic Party's leftward movement and the GOP's rightward movement. To what extent can increasing division in the House reasonably be attributed to gerrymandering? M.C., Perth, Scotland

We would say that there are two causes of the increasing division in the House, and one of them is definitely gerrymandering. The GOP, in particular, has crafted many districts that are in the bag (or very close) as long as the party faithful show up to vote. That has favored red-meat-style candidates, and has caused a lot of moderates to be shown the door.

The other factor, which is related, is that various stakeholders in the Republican Party have done a pretty good job of convincing party faithful to commit very powerfully to a small number of litmus-test issues—most obviously guns and abortion. A candidate who is "right" on the party's core issues is close to bulletproof, regardless of how extreme they are on other issues (ahem, Steve King), or how "wrong" they are on the other things that GOP voters ostensibly value (ahem, Donald Trump).

There have, of course, been cases where a centrist Democrat has been replaced by a much more leftist Democrat—see, for example, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. However, the dominant story for the last 10 years has been the defeat of moderate Democrats/Republicans at the hands of extreme Republicans, for the reasons we outline above. The decline of moderates is why both parties have moved further from the center, while the rise in more extreme Republicans is why that party's caucus has moved particularly far from the center.

I am wondering why is it so difficult to see if Michael Cohen was or was not in Prague on the dates in question? Surely passport control and/or airplane records would indicate his presence? Can't someone subpoena his passport and check the entry/exit stamps? M.M.K., Amsterdam, Netherlands

We're going to focus our answer on passports; most of what we say would also apply to airplane manifests, etc., as well. Anyhow, there are a number of reasons that a passport would not be definitive here. Here are some of them:

  • A person of Cohen's means, and willingness to break the law, could acquire a false passport. Or, for that matter, a legitimate passport that belongs to someone else who looks reasonably similar to him.

  • Depending on his parentage, Cohen could possibly obtain a second passport from a different country. There are many people who, for example, travel under their American passport sometimes, and a passport from a European country at other times.

  • It is also legal to have two American passports in some circumstances, like when a stamp would cause a passport to be rejected (for example, some countries might not let you in if your passport carries an Israeli stamp).

  • Passport stamps are often hastily applied, and with cheap ink, such that they are not always clear and readable.

  • A person could lose/destroy their passport, or have it expire, and then acquire a new one without an incriminating stamp.

  • Most importantly, in this case, the Schengen Agreement allows people to travel between 26 European countries without showing a passport. The Czech Republic is one of the 26.

It has, in fact, already occurred to people to ask Cohen for his passport, and he complied. It shows several stamps from 2016, though not all of them are clear because the customs officer did not press hard enough. None of them indicate a visit to the Czech Republic, but several show visits of long enough duration that he could plausibly have taken a train to Prague and back without difficulty. So, that leaves us right where we started.

You have written about the shenanigans that took place in the gubernatorial election in Georgia and suggested that a solution to that would be to federalize elections. Would it be as simple as the House and Senate passing a bill, and the President signing it or would it be necessary to amend the Constitution? R.H., Seattle, WA

There are three relevant passages of the Constitution here. The first comes from Article I:

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing [sic] Senators.

The second is the equal protection clause, which comes from the first part of the Fourteenth Amendment:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The third is the Seventeenth Amendment, which need not be quoted here, and is relevant only because it modifies Article I and eliminates the "except as to the Places of chusing [sic] Senators" portion.

Anyhow, taken as a group, these passages from the Constitution make clear that Congress is supreme when in comes to making rules for elections, and that they also have an affirmative duty to make sure that citizens' rights are protected, including the right to vote. So, if they were to try to federalize elections, they would be on very solid legal ground.

Several weeks ago, you had several answers to questions that mentioned Harry S. Truman, and each time seemed to include a reference to him being a "Southerner." As a Kansas City transplant (admittedly, one who grew up in Iowa) for the past decade, this characterization doesn't match my experience of K.C. being very much a Midwestern city, culturally speaking. My question is, do you consider Missouri Southern by virtue of it being a slave state, because it seems to have followed the rest of the South's transition from electing Blue Dog Democrats to being reliably Republican, or for some other reason? Or do you consider Truman a "Southerner" for some other reason? Curious to know your thoughts on what makes a Southern state, as well as a Southerner. N.H., Kansas City, MO

Truman was chosen to replace Henry Wallace as VP in 1944 for three primary reasons. Here they are, from most to least important:

  1. He led a committee during WWII that eliminated much fraud and inefficiency
  2. He was a moderate
  3. He fit the ticket's geographical needs

By "geographical needs," we mean that the Democrats knew they were fine in the Northeast, but they wanted to shore up the ticket in the Midwest and the South. That St. Louis/northern Missouri are kinda Midwestern but also kinda Southern let the blue team kill both of those birds with one stone. And it worked fairly well, as FDR/Truman held onto the South and much of the Midwest.

So, when we call Truman a Southerner, it is because that is how he was viewed/marketed during his national campaigns. As to what defines the South in general, there's no universal answer to that, of course. The easiest thing to do is to go with the 11 states of the Confederacy, but then that leaves out Kentucky and Oklahoma (which are quite Southern) and West Virginia/Maryland/Missouri, which are kinda Southern. Or, we can go with the states that had slaves at the time the Civil War started, but that adds Delaware (which isn't too Southern anymore) and removes Oklahoma (which wasn't a state yet).

Anyhow, our thinking is that Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia are hands-down, no-doubt-about-it Southern states. Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, Maryland, West Virginia, Missouri, Kansas, and maybe even Indiana and Ohio are what we might call semi-Southern, in that they feature some elements of Southern culture, or they have regions that are distinctly Southern, but also regions that are more akin to some other section of the country (for example, West Texas is much more Western, while East Texas is much more Southern).

If all else fails: If a state has good BBQ, it's probably Southern.

If the House were to impeach Donald Trump, what is the Senate's obligation thereafter? Do they have to hold a trial, and if so, how much power does McConnell have to turn it into a meaningless event? And then does the Senate actually have to vote on the removal of the president, like they will have to vote on the national-emergency-nullifying resolution the House just passed? Or does McConnell have the power to block such a vote? T.S., Washington, D.C.

Actually, this is spelled out in remarkable detail in Senate Rule XI, which was last revised in 1986 (and so is basically up to date, by Congressional standards). The key passage is this one, which explains what happens once the House has adopted articles of impeachment and communicated them to the Senate:

Upon such articles being presented to the Senate, the Senate shall, at 1 o'clock afternoon of the day (Sunday excepted) following such presentation, or sooner if ordered by the Senate, proceed to the consideration of such articles and shall continue in session from day to day (Sundays excepted) after the trial shall commence (unless otherwise ordered by the Senate) until final judgment shall be rendered, and so much longer as may, in its judgment, be needful.

In short, if the House votes to impeach, the Senate has to drop everything except their church-going plans. There is virtually no room for shenanigans by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) at any point in the process, since the Senate has to begin considering the matter immediately, and the Chief Justice (if it's the president being impeached) or the Vice President (if it's anyone else) preside over the hearings, not the Majority Leader.

We also had a question from S.C. in Mountain View, CA, about whether or not the Democrats could time things to coincide with the Republican National Convention, or some other inconvenient time for Trump. Given the timeline laid out in the rules, they certainly could, but that would make it awfully hard for them to claim that the impeachment was not politically motivated.

How can anything get done in committee meetings with so many people on a committee and with them so divided? Does all the real work get done in smaller, informal working groups? J.A., Rutland, VT

When it's not something as high-profile as Michael Cohen, they don't generally spend quite as much time posturing (ahem, Chip Roy), and—in fact—many of them may not even attend. That said, you're right that much of the work gets done by smaller subcommittees. For example, the House Oversight Committee (which is the one that grilled Cohen publicly), has these subcommittees: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Economic and Consumer Policy, Environment, Government Operations, and National Security. The only thing we would clarify about your question is that these subcommittees are not "informal." They have set memberships, and play by the same basic rules as the main committee.

Why do the major parties bias their delegate allocations to favor states where they already do well? This seems counterintuitive, if their goal is electing a President. Why not allocate extra delegates to swing states to make it more likely that a candidate who could win in those states gets picked by the convention? R.T., Arlington, TX

It used to be the case, of course, that party pooh-bahs chose the most "electable" candidate by meeting in a smoke-filled room and hashing it out. We're still fairly early in the era of the parties letting voters make the call, and clearly they have not entirely solved all of the riddles that entails. The Democrats thought it best to give senior party members an extra voice (i.e., superdelegates), and the Republicans disagreed. Both came to regret their decisions in 2016.

Anyhow, the reason the parties do this is that they want to reward loyal states, in hopes that those states will develop a partisan "identity" and a pride in that identity, and will stick with their team through thick and thin. Say what you will, but it seems to be working, as there are probably 35 states that have stayed with the same party at least 90% of the time since 1960.

Your proposed system might have the effect of identifying more "electable" candidates (by which, we're presumably talking about more centrist candidates), but maybe not. First of all, the more power you give to a smaller number of voters, the greater the likelihood of unexpected or odd picks. Someone like Jim Webb would not do well in very blue states, but could do some real damage if red- and purple-state Democrats wielded substantial power over the nominee. And he, in our view, is not especially electable on a national level. Second, a candidate that appeals to very moderate Democrats might turn off very liberal Democrats, such that the cost of winning, say, North Carolina is losing a state like Michigan, where just a few thousand defections to a Jill Stein-type could prove fatal. Third, it may not be correct to think that just because a state is very blue that it does not reflect all of the various Democratic constituencies. For example, California has many very liberal Democrats (in San Francisco and Los Angeles, in particular), but also many moderate Democrats (in the suburbs of those cities, in particular), and even a fair number of conservative Democrats (in the various inland and rural areas, in particular). Meanwhile, the Democrats in a state like, say, Tennessee are almost all moderate or conservative. Which state is really in a better position to identify the Democrat that is most suitable to all wings of the Party?

This is not to say that the current way of doing things is correct, merely that any approach to choosing a candidate will have benefits and consequences, and these are some of the consequences of weighting non-blue states more heavily.

If you have a question about politics, civics, history, etc. you would like us to answer, click here for submission instructions and previous Q & A's. If you spot any typos or other errors on the site that we should fix, please let us know at

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Mar02 All Kinds of Trouble for Trump
Mar02 Washington Governor Is In(Slee)
Mar02 Saturday Q&A
Mar01 Following Cohen Testimony, Members of Congress Make Their Next Moves
Mar01 GOP Senators to Trump: Drop the Emergency
Mar01 Trump Sides with a Strongman Again
Mar01 RNC Chair Tacitly Threatens Potential Trump Challengers
Mar01 Wheeler Confirmed to Lead EPA
Mar01 Netanyahu Indicted on Corruption Charges
Mar01 Democratic Presidential Candidate of the Week: Jeff Merkley
Feb28 Cohen Channels His Inner Dean
Feb28 Collateral Damage from Cohen's Testimony
Feb28 Takeaways from the Cohen Hearings
Feb28 The View from the Right
Feb28 Summit Ends with a Thud
Feb28 O'Rourke's Plans Come Into Focus
Feb27 House Votes to Kill Emergency Declaration, 245-182
Feb27 Cohen Testifies
Feb27 Background Checks Bill on Deck
Feb27 Trump Meets with Kim Today
Feb27 2020 Won't Be 2016 Redux for Democrats
Feb27 Hogan Clearly Prepping for a 2020 Primary Challenge
Feb27 Harris Is Out in NC-09
Feb27 Next Mayor of Chicago Will Be a Black Woman
Feb26 Congress Prepares for Vote on National Emergency
Feb26 Warren: No Sucking Up to Wealthy Donors for Me
Feb26 Former Klobuchar Staffers Come to Her Defense
Feb26 New York Goes After Trump's Taxes
Feb26 Former Campaign Staffer Sues Trump for Unwanted Kiss, Discrimination
Feb26 White House to Set Up Anti-Climate Change Panel
Feb26 Trump Takes the Oscar Bait
Feb25 Schiff: I Will Have Mueller Testify
Feb25 Trump Picks Billionaire GOP Donor for U.N. Ambassador
Feb25 Dozens of Former National Security Officials Denounce Trump's Emergency
Feb25 Pompeo Contradicts Trump on North Korea
Feb25 Harris Announces Her Plan
Feb25 Colorado Is Poised to Join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact
Feb25 Bennet Visits Iowa
Feb25 Sanders Leads in New Hampshire
Feb25 Hickenlooper: I'm Not Cut Out to Be a Senator
Feb25 Monday Q&A
Feb22 House Will Vote on National Emergency Resolution Today
Feb22 Stone Gets Rocked
Feb22 California and the Trump Administration Are Basically at War
Feb22 New Jersey May Not Be Far Behind
Feb22 Hillary Clinton, Kingmaker?
Feb22 New Election in NC-09
Feb22 Pompeo Won't Run for Senate
Feb22 Democratic Presidential Candidate of the Week: Steve Bullock
Feb21 Sanders Raises $6 Million in One Day